The regulations concerning the management of polluted soil have been modified according to 3 watchwords: simplification, acceleration of procedures and strengthening of financial measures. The new provisions came into force in July 2017.
Many economic players are or will one day be faced with the problem of soil pollution. Since 2004, specific regulatory provisions have regulated the management of this problem in Brussels. Current regulations are based on an ordinance adopted by the region in 2009. This ordinance has just been modified to consider the lessons from over 10 years of experience in managing soil pollution in Brussels.
Overview of the main modifications
1. Time-saving in the study and treatment process
a) Combining studies
The traditional procedure set out in the ordinance of 2009 provides for the chronological performance of the following studies:
- Soil investigation study (RES): to determine the existence or absence of pollution
- Detailed study: if pollution is detected by the RES, to delimit the extent and precisely determine the nature and origin of the pollution
- Risk study: in case of orphan pollution, to determine the risks involved and limit the latter by determining approved uses.
It is now possible to combine some or all of these different studies (2 or 3 at the same time), with your soil expert being required to propose this option.
Brussels Environment estimates that this possibility will reduce the average study time to 8 months, compared to 18-24 months previously!
b) Minimal treatment
In the context of the performance of a soil investigation study, if your soil expert reports limited pollution (that is to say, relating to an area less than 20 m²), then he may suggest that clean-up take place immediately (by a sanitation company). This represents a significant time saving compared with the traditional procedure.
c) Time-limited treatment
In some specific cases, it is possible to request time-limited treatment (maximum 180 days).
2. Consideration of the economic reality of ongoing activities
With a view to administrative simplification, the possibilities for exemption from a soil investigation study have been expanded to consider on-the-ground realities, and specifically:
- at the time of a request to extend an environmental permit when the installation has been equipped for the duration of its use with prevention measures guaranteeing soil protection, or when the latter is insufficiently controlled and maintained.
- when these is a risk of serious disturbance to the economic activity and the activity has not been discontinued;
- if several operators are currently present on your plot.
It should be noted that this exemption must be officially requested in advance from Bruxelles Environnement.
3. Financial support for the management of soil pollution
The modification to the ordinance provides for consolidation of the bonuses for the performance of studies and clean-up works (bonuses revised upwards from 2018). All financial support available is presented here (FR).
Other forms of intervention are being studied:
- Establishment of sector funds: funds could be constituted in the future to finance the management of pollution from the following sectors:
- Oil fuel tanks (PREMAZ fund)
- Dry cleaning (under review)
- Automotive industry (under review)
- Intervention by public authorities: a pilot project may be launched in 2018
Companies should also note that it is possible to fiscally deduct some costs related to the management of polluted soil.
4. Even more tools to help make your life easier
At the same time as modifying the soil ordinance, Brussels Environment developed new tools to make your life easier:
The soil facilitator (FR): a specific service to be contacted for any questions relating to soil pollution (study, treatment, financial support, etc.).
Digital processes: to manage your requests in a few clicks.
Want to know more?
You can consult the full ordinance text
The Brussels Environment website presents all the information related to your obligations in terms of soil pollution management (FR)